On Sunday, I shot out a text to a few close friends. It read: “Hey y’all, this may be the silliest text I’ve ever sent, but I wanted to give you a heads up that I’m deactivating my Facebook, and I didn’t want any of you thinking I blocked you for no reason.” (Yes, it was a silly text, but I stand by it. I’ve heard some surprising horror stories about friends deactivating their pages and receiving huge backlash from people who thought they were blocked. What an age we live in!) I even took to contacting my fellow Lovelyish writers about my decision, since I was excited to compose a post about my Facebook sabbatical. Well…I do have a post about it. The only problem is, my break up with Facebook only lasted a day. Why was I so weak?
I sat down at my computer on Sunday afternoon, glanced at my news feed and then went through the (surprisingly detailed) steps to deactivate my profile. After doing so, I closed the window, and was immediately confronted with a tab I had previously opened: a Facebook album of a friend’s engagement vacation photos. I felt a twinge of guilt and disappointment that I now wouldn’t be able to see the shots (or the ring), but I wasn’t going to give in that quickly, so I quickly closed the window.
At first I felt relieved to be in the Facebook-less minority of my peers. I no longer had to maintain that vague connection with people I didn’t really care about, nor did I have to wonder who was peeking into my life via photos or wall posts. It was nice to email my friend a link that would have gone up on her Facebook wall and not wonder who else was reading our conversation. It also felt liberating to know that I now could stay solely in contact with the few select friends that I wanted to keep up with, and not hundreds of people who are unfamiliar with my life. I had privacy, and a simplified social network. It felt good. For a day.
But then I started thinking about the acquaintances I did care about, ones who I don’t maintain regular contact with, but still want to keep in my life. Like the former close friend who had a baby last week, my artist pal who posts pictures of her work in progress or the high school classmate who always links to intriguing news articles. I started wondering what pictures my friends were putting up from South by Southwest, and whether there were any good shots of bands I hadn’t seen. I missed seeing what my sisters were up to twelve hours away, and even the posts from my mother that can only be described as “completely mom-ish” (think lots of inspirational quotes). Sure, I was isolated from a lot of static, but I was also cut off from people and opinions I was interested in.
Funny enough, the bullet that broke through my armor of resolve was a Ladies of the 80s Sing-Along that I remembered my friend had invited me to on Facebook. I hadn’t yet bought tickets and wasn’t sure how to…but I knew all the information I needed could be easily found on a simple event page. And I caved. What resulted after clicking that “log in” button was a digital bloodbath. First, I went and checked out those engagement photos, and was sure to congratulate the happy couple. I then dove in to a sea of SXSW shots, greedily soaking in the pics of artists and events I’d missed. Finally, I hopped onto my news feed to catch up with the friends I care about but don’t talk to every day, and was pleased to find fresh wedding photos, some amazing new artwork and even just some witty status updates that made me laugh. Facebook and I were reunited, and it felt so good.
While I feel a bit sheepish about touting my Facebook break only to get back on a day later, I don’t regret trying it out, nor do I regret logging back in. Being away from the site made me reevaluate how I can stay in contact with friends while having a bit more privacy. There’s always the option of messaging over wall posting, and it has been a long while since I’ve cleared out my friend list. There are even new settings that can let me sort people into friend groups and control which groups see certain information. It’s more complicated than axing the network altogether, but I’m willing to jump through some hoops to stay connected.
Have you ever tried getting rid of Facebook? How did it go? If not, would you ever consider deactivating your page?